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October 27, 2017 8:09 pm

Mixed Views on College Heights Proposed Development

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 @ 6:00 AM


Residents mill about  the Columbus Community Centre to get details on proposed  development – photos 250News

Prince George, B.C. –  Many residents of College Heights and  those who live  near and use North College Park  are not convinced  a small  housing development is the best  use of a piece of North College Park.

The plan  put  forth at a public meeting  last evening, calls for  the development of a dozen ” accessible” homes  that would appeal to the seniors market .  The problem is the proposed location.

About a hundred turned out to the session at the Columbus  Community Centre,  and while the  developer,  Dirk Loedel spoke  with neighbours inside one room,  some residents were outside the doors of that room collecting signatures on a petition  opposing the project.

North College Park  provides  a green space  between  Domano Boulevard and an existing well established neighbourhood  to the north of Domano.    In the City’s  draft  Parks Strategy,  which took stock of all parks in the City  with a view to repurposing some park property  to  raise money to  improve others,  North College  Park is listed  as being 13.36 hectares in size and  providing everything from  trails to  tennis,  parking to  swing sets.

According to the City’s parks assessment,   the  population of the neighbourhood is  just over  two and a half thousand.   If the  neighbourhood park provision stand is applied which is 1.2 hectares per thousand population,  the  City’s report indicates only 3.03 hectares of parkland are  required for the neighbourhood,  and   the neighbourhood currently has  14.96 hectares,  almost all of it  in  North College Park.

Proposed development  calls for  a dozen  residences

Proposed development calls for a dozen residences

The  proposed development would only take up  about one hectare of  the  13.36  hectares and  the plan calls for two existing trails through greenspace to be  slightly realigned.

No matter how much  property the  development  would  take  it would mean a loss of some of that greenspace,  and that’s what has  many of the residents upset about the  proposal.  “As a parent and as a school teacher,  I am  concerned about the encroaching on  our green space and  how that  affects the children ”  said one woman.   Her thoughts were echoed  by many in the room.

Developer Loedel  doesn’t own the property in question,  that is a matter  on which the City has  yet  to decide,  but from his perspective,  he would like to build  a seniors friendly  development that he could move into.  Loedel says  he has been looking to build a project  like this for about  3 years,  and  there are  reasons why  this particular piece of property  is  the preferred location ” The first thing is soil conditions. It’s not clay, it’s not mud, it’s sand.  The  second thing is location.  It’s right behind where I presently live and if I move I would like to move real  close.  Third is proximity to  the  neighbourhood  shopping I’ve been going to for 40 or 50 years  and I like the idea that if  you look at the development  we propose here,  everyone would be backing on to a greenbelt.”

Loedel is well aware of the feelings of  some  in the neighbourhood and says  he doesn’t expect to change the  opinions of those who oppose the project,  but says  not all the  reaction  has been negative “I know there are a few who have written who say  they would like to see this go ahead.”

He says  the  amount of land needed  for  the development has been  deemed “surplus to the needs of that park. There is going to be no loss of trails, no loss of recreation, nothing,  it’s all still there.”

City Hall is still far from making a decision  on this project  as it first must decide if it  agrees with the draft park strategy that there is  surplus land in the park   and  then would have to make a decision to sell  a portion of the property.



Uh, c’mon people, we need development and tax dollars stop shutting down every proposal.

    Judging from the amount of cleared land and building going on in the CH part of town, it doesn’t seem like very many proposals are being shut down.

Put it in that vacant lot between Can Tire and Save On.. Its ready to build on and doesn’t seem like anyone is going to use it

    goes back to the city and zoning issues. That land is zoned commercial, and all behind it belongs to the church. You cannot get land rezoned within 5-6 years in this town, thats why nothing gets done on new land, or land that has to be rezoned.

    Years ago an ice rink was proposed behind Saveon, city shut it down because of the land use. Imagine an ice rink in college heights? Amazing. The Hart has one, why not, right?

    It will never change

      Isn’t there one at the corner of O’Grady and Southridge?

      “You cannot get land rezoned within 5-6 years in this town”

      That is BS!!! Prove your statement!!

I am pro development but I got to say that the whole area up there reminds me of Kelowna a little bit. People stacked up on top of each other like cord wood and the crappiest access ever. They better make more improvements to Domano and 16 if they want to push more cars through that corridor. The O’Grady access also needs a big improvement too.

I agree with the three previous comments. Our city desperately needs seniors housing. Teach your children to care for seniors and others by giving up a small piece of there space. One day you will be a senior (no getting out of it) and you will appreciate a younger generation that cares! Its not always about the children.

    No one is against senior housing, they just don’t want it in an already established park that they use. One that makes their neighbourhood desirable to live in. How did this become a targeted action against seniors?

Yep just keep chipping away at the established greenspace which make parts of PG unique.

We seem to be constantly talking about the need for seniors housing in Prince George, however I rarely see any statistics to indicate the actual number of seniors, where they live now, and how these types of development can help alleviate the situation.

We should keep in mind that you don’t stay a senior forever, and that as you depart this world others come to take your place. In other words there must be a tipping point where we will eventually have less seniors than we do now, and therefore less need to continue this drive to build senior housing.

More facts would be appreciated.

Why can seniors housing only be built on existing parks? Did we run out of land in PG?

    Best question so far.

This seems like a pretty good in-fill seniors housing project. Close to transit, shopping and green space trails.

If the city is going to dictate how many trees per capita we are allowed to enjoy and if it is deemed that there is an excess (the very reason we moved here) in College Heights, then who better than the proposed developer to replace trees with stylized bricks and mortar. However, due diligence to determine impact to the historical wildlife corridor must take priority. Despite our best efforts to undermine this corridor from the highway to the University…moose, bear, dear and fox still move through our “little” park enroute to the river. If it must be done than do it right. An enclave for the well heeled of Prince George needing to downsize should not be the first priority. There must be gold tinged sand elsewhere with less environmental impact!

Be nice if all housing was built accessible. It’s not just seniors who benefit from it.

There is tons of cleared land in town, and much of it in the College Heights area. Fill that up first and then perhaps start thinking of new areas. I’m tired of developers tearing willy-nilly into every forest and hillside and then waiting years – decades even! – for houses to finally get built, lawns and trees to grow. Half-developed land is such an eyesore, and the city needs to clamp down on this practice by encouraging completion of development before looking for new areas.

Heck, if this developer wants senior housing accessible to amenities, there is that entire swath of land, with streets and services it seems, right next to Save-On and across from Canadian Tire. Maybe it’s currently zoned commercial or something, but it would be way easier to rezone that to residential if that’s the case than to fight about rezoning a *heavily used* park. And it’s close to shopping, some restaurants, a dentist, and other services. Might even be a physician there, I don’t know. But maybe a group of physicians could be persuaded to set up a practice with an adjacent walk-in.

Long and short of it: there is plenty of other room already available in College Heights for a development like this, and some of it would be exceedingly optimal for seniors’ housing if that’s the goal.

In any case, it’s time to stop this practice of cutting into park land here in town. Once its developed, we’ll never get it back. Can you imagine the outcry in most cities if a developer came along and said that they wanted to rip into a park for profit?

    That parcel of land is prime land to develop a combined retail plus higher rise residential. There is a shopping centre there already with a grocery store, a couple of restaurants, pizza outlet, coffee bar, bank, drug store, and plenty or room to expand and connect that with additional retail.

    Since people are talking about Kelowna, that is the type of point development they have been building there for some time.

    The proposed development just perpetuates low density residential, nothing new with that. Plenty of it around.

Looking at the map seems to be only 12 homes, rather exclusive housing to me. Is it going to be multilevel or single level? Multilevel not conclusive to senors whom most have or will have mobility issues.

I think the word senior was just thrown as a feel good, gotcha.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought there was water and sewer supply issues in that part of the heights ? The infrastructure up there is in need of work and adding more load is not going to do it any good .

This city and developers are giving us citizens a false perception of senior homes. Take the new subdivision that is going in at Westgate. Not one of their advertisements on the site mention anything about seniors.The only thing I heard was from the city mayor that it was for seniors? Huh? Most seniors do not want or need the square footage that are being proposed in these developments. Nor do most seniors want a 3 level house.

Got to agree with seamutt that the word “senior is being thrown out there as a feel good gotcha!

Ok…so lets try to get this straight shall we? He is a developer..who, with the apparent “misunderstood permission” that was an apparent “unfortunate misunderstanding” from one unfortunately identified city official…dragged several pieces of heavy equipment into our parkland 2 summers ago (unbeknownst to any of us) and unfortunately cleared and slashed several rough lots in an unfortunate and very poor attempt to gather ” soil samples” and then left everything behind in a massive heap as though someone got drunk and went for a drive through our parkland in a bulldozer!!! He wants to build a development for profit in upper college heights!!!…in an already developed and well balanced neighbourhood for profit!!! Thats all and all of the other details surrounding the “benefits” of this idea are fluffy B.S. This isnt him wanting to retire in a smaller place guys…this is him (a developer) who wants to build 10 or 12 lots as a gated strata community surrounded by fence that will face out onto Eaton. These places will likely go to market at $350K to $450K? The developer sees an opportunity to make profit and I would be very surprised if he was actually going to live there when he retires (I am certain that is also just a concept he is currently using…but that could change right?)…because theres more money to be made selling his development properties than living in one of them right? Most people move to Victoria or Vernon…a consistently nicer and warmer climatic zone when they retire…not a smaller house 300m from where they already live! Oh…and what developer would want to live amongst the people who he has built those units for? A massachist at best!!! I know I would definitely not want to wake up on my first day of retirement surrounded by the people I had sold houses to….especially older, opinionated people with lots of time on their hands to hear that someones floor is really squeaky when they stand near their dishwasher and drink their coffee each morning…yeah…thats what I would sign up for…in a heartbeat!!! And whoever cooked up the story that the money from the sale of this portion of the parkland would go towards the budget for maintaining all of the parks around PG should offer a master class in creative writing!!! Money from the sale of parkland wont get earmarked to help pay for the “maintenance” of parkland! It goes into general operating budget and gets consumed by the next awesome downtown parking ticket technology the city decides will be the best way to revitalize the downtown business area. If you think that anyone involved in this proposal has anything other than $$$ on their mind…you need to put the bottle down and give your head a couple of good shakes..I will help you if you like…because its just more of the same crap that goes on around here…there is money to be made…and if you know the right people and say what you think people want to hear…then its very likely that you can convince some people who dont live in my neighbourhood (not yours) that this developer is doing something nice with our parkland! He is doing something nice for himself and thats all… move somewhere else and let the kids walk their dogs and play in the woods mister and maybe we will still see moose, deer, fox and bear on our walks…thats worth more to us than any money you can hope to pour into your bank account or some poorly designed story meant to help rationalize destroying parkland that is far more beneficial to us in its current state to..for our community to enjoy. Go build somewhere else and Im sure you will find a great spot to retire! I wish you luck with that

    Very compelling argument. Just the land clearing a few years ago of parkland not yet owned should preclude this developer from ever developing this parkland. If he he wanted to do it then he should have had some respect for the neighbourhood and did it above board from the get go.

    PG has lots of available land that is not parkland. When people buy in an area with parkland it is assumed parkland will remain parkland. It’s dirty ball to have city hall conspiring with developers to profit from parkland development. I expect nothing less from a mayor that conspired to sell off 26 local schools in PG for private developers and all the prime school parks and fields neighbohoods relied on that went with those 26 schools.

    Mr. Bill. You couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any better with an electron microscope. It is always about money. Money in the pockets of the developers, money in city coffers through higher taxes and I would love to know how much money the Diocese sent to Rome from the sale of all of those lands. Maybe they can make the new development senior friendly and turn the old O’Grady Catholic high school into a homeless shelter. There’s money to be made in misery.

    MrBill nailed it!

    “These places will likely go to market at $350K to $450K?”

    Add another $100,000 to that, unless the City donates the property (and they will not do that). In addition it is a gated community which means that there will be monthly charges for maintenance of the common property (the inboard substandard street/laneway at a minimum) so that will be another $300+/month.

    Whether it will be restricted to seniors is doubtful. Professional millennials with two salaries or family inheritances or similar support will likely be interested in such units as well.

    There is nothing for certain about the perpetual use of the property for any given segment of the population.

Good quality senior/older adult strata housing in a nice setting and not crammed together is in demand in PG, so I for one am pleased that this is being examined. Reading the article, it says the developer doesn’t own the land – the city went to them with a request for ideas on development. Not sure why the cleared area close to Canadian Tire is still vacant – good question.

    A gated community is crammed together and isolationist at best and this would not be slated as a senior community…it would be a strata like McGill Village down the street…only tucked behind a gated wall and would only “theoretically” be single story dwellings. The seniors terminology is just a line of bull. Then there will be the opportunity for people who live out of town to buy them and then sublet them…blah blah blah. If they were just upfront about what they were doing…they would know right away that it will not be well received. They are simply saying things designed to sound good…but look at the way they have behaved so far? Ripping up a forest without a permit…leaving felled trees just laying in in huge piles… so what else are they going to do and apologize for later on because they didnt have permission or follow the laws and zoning? It just stinks! Why do we habe laws if people can and will just break them without consequense?

    ht tps://www.250news.com/2015/05/13/residents-stand-up-for-park/

    Last year when the park was dug up

We agree with MrBill… and we don’t even live there anymore !!!! And this is exactly one of the reasons why !!! You have some people in your city hall who seem to consider the assets of the city to be their personal pocket of coins to play with. Another example of money being used to grease the wheels… permission be damned !! Misunderstood ? Sure if you have the IQ of a pine beetle !! Misunderstood be damned. These are extremely manipulative, cunning, well funded people you are up against. That parkland will simple disappear, only to be replaced with arrogant, self serving smiles and back slapping laughter. Too bad you cannot vote for the employee positions at your city hall. There is absolutely no accountability for the actions of some people. They will do the same thing next week with impunity… and sleep well.

This is a low density development. If the City owns land which it wishes to sell within an existing subdivision that has been developed for about 4 to 5 decades in this instance, then it needs a much better argument than the one provided here.

One of the requirements should be that in return for the financial benefit of selling parkland, the money received for the land, as well as the increased taxes received from the property gets reinvested elsewhere in that same community with the approval of that community from which the community asset was removed. In this case that might a swimming pool which was hinted at the time of amalgamation, or whatever might be in the minds of the community these days.

In my mind, that means providing a much higher density development than that in the surrounding area. That means more funds from the sale and more annual property tax in perpetuity tapping into existing services.

As to road capacity, Elton Avenue is a collector road, which is single loaded in the area proposed to be developed for housing, thus able to support additional traffic. At the east end it collects about 30 housing units on that side.

Let us say that the Park, which is not protected by any provincial or City legislation, but could be, has a surplus component and will still maintain a continuity of trail access.

Residential “estate lot” sizes for suburban development generates about 1 to 2 single family housing units per acre with more dense versions of that type of development generating up to 4 units per acre.

Low density urban residential properties range as follows:
• Traditional single family residential (most of College Heights) about 6 units per acre.
• Single family with secondary unit or coach housing or duplex about 8 to 10 units per acre
• Medium density urban residential includes compact single family of about 10 to 12 units per acre or duplex developments of 12 to 15 units per acre.
And it goes upwards from there.

“about” one hectare = “about” 2.5 acres. The proposed development is for 12 units, which produces a density of 4 to 5 units per acre. That is proliferating urban sprawl which we are trying to reduce according to the OCP.

Dirk Loedel has been known to be a better than average residential builder in PG for some time. His most recent development at the end of Malaspina, in which he left most of the trees standing, unlike other developers of today, indicate that he should be able to come up with some more imaginative higher densities by building at least 3 storeys with elevators for accessibility with similar sized units and quality of construction that fit into the that neighbourhood.

As far as so-called parkland goes, unless it is registered as such in the province, it is open to rezoning at any time. P zoning is a misnomer. If people want “park” that will not be subject to future rezoning, they need to get it registered as such in the Province.

Forget the seniors housing. We dont like to shovel snow. Abby is just great for seniors.


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